Before I get to Matt’s new album, its good to be able to say that this won’t be the only only album reviewed over the next few weeks and months from UK groups and individuals. That in itself is extraordinary; a great blessing and encouragement from God.
However, into this exciting melee of music production, ‘Tumbling Sky’ stands distinct. It is ‘something different’ and I don’t mean that pejoratively. What Matt has done is unique, is much needed and is long overdue in the current ‘worship music’ scene. Matt has written an album of laments…yes laments! (A lament is simply ‘a passionate expression of grief or sorrow’).
You can imagine in Christian music label HQ’s around the world, a conversation has occurred periodically around the subject. Many people will acknowledge the existence of laments and the importance of laments in the biblical playlist, but in a world of smiley veneers, of financial and commercial viability. that laments are probably the first genre of song that has been dropped off pre-production song lists.
But why is an album of laments so important? Over recent months I have become acutely aware in those around me and personally that life now, though full of many blessings in Christ, can at times really really hurt. The problem I see in too many is that they feel they have to put on a show, and what results is a thin veneer of stiff-upper lip, proud self-reliance. But the outward show over time moulds the heart and people become cold and distant from God and those around them.
When David felt in such despair he cried out to God, when it seemed that all was lost, that he was beyond the mercy of God, he didn’t curl up in the fetal position and mope. He (in the end) turned to God, he didn’t hold back his concern, his worry. His songs are not sanitised by any cultural norms, they are the raw authentic cry of a sinners heart before a merciful loving God.
Get real, because life is tough sometimes. But God in his kindness has provided biblical songs of lament to voice that hurt and pain that we all know, have felt, or will feel one day.
‘Tumbling Sky’ is a collection of those biblical laments from the Psalms. The musicianship and production is first rate and the album is very listenable to. But be warned, choose carefully where you listen to it. It came onto my iPod as I was at the gym running on the treadmill, enjoying a swift and sweaty 10k! Normally these are moments of endorphin fuelled glee, but I began to listen intently to the words and soon not only sweat was pouring down my face!
So who is this for? It should be for churches, but are we ready? Have you ever sung a lament in church? Should you sing a lament in the congregational gathering? The fear is that it would be off-putting for those investigating the Christian faith. But what are we saying? Are we suggesting to the watching world that life is a breeze, that being a Christian is easy, that the cross we take up is just a minor inconvenience?!
What we sing in church will speak loudly about what life is like in the Kingdom of God. Most of our songs ought to express our joy, declaring the victories of Christ and the hope of eternity. But what about corporate lament? What about singing as a church that life is tough, but that Christ is tougher and will safely bring us home.
Matt Searles, in ‘Tumbling Sky’, helps us take our pain and sorrow to God in song, but faithfully does what the biblical laments do; he reminds us of the covenant promises of God that we know in Christ.
This album is so helpful and I pray it is not the last of its kind. We need this.
Also posted on www.andyfenton.com